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Jul 18, 2012 09:17 PM

Walkable area to stay/eat in Detroit?

Hi -

I'm going to be in Detroit for one night next week. I'm traveling to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, and I thought I'd stop and see the Motown Museum on the way. (!!!) I haven't made a hotel reservation, so I was hoping for a little guidance.

What area would be good to stay in? Usually, I'd prefer to stay in the center city, but if there's a nicer area that's safe for a middle-aged lady to walk around in, I'd prefer that. And good places to eat would be a bonus.

I'd appreciate any suggestions. Thanks.

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  1. Not sure about how expensive it is, but the Westin Book-Cadillac sounds right up your alley. It's downtown, and right inside is Roast, a great Michael Symon restaurant with the absolute best Cocktail Hour in the area. The room might be a bit expensive, but the Cocktail Hour most definitely is *not*. I was just there earlier in the week, and once again enjoyed the heck out of myself. Get the burger, the stuffed peppers, or the BOTD tacos. You won't be unhappy with any of them, IMHO.

    Oh, and you might want to temper your expectations a bit with regard to the Motown Museum, as it's...*tiny*. Just saying it up front. That's all.

    1. You could stay in the Midtown/Wayne State University area at the Inn on Ferry Street, a string of old houses that have been made into a sort of ├╝ber-B&B. Nothing in Detroit is really super walkable at night (this includes the central business district), but you could walk to the art museum from there, and you'd be pretty close to campus-area hangouts like the Traffic Jam and a real old-line Italian institution, Mario's on Second Ave. Some would walk to those, some would not; I guess for a female tourist alone I'd say drive.

      You could stay in Ann Arbor or the Detroit suburb of Birmingham, both of which have hotels and good restaurants and are extremely walkable.

      I personally like the Motown Museum. It is indeed small, but they sort of walked off and left it untouched in 1972, and it has a pleasing ghosts-in-the-halls quality. Not walkable wherever you stay.

      18 Replies
      1. re: Jim M

        My vote would be for Birmingham (as a middle aged lady myself!). Very walkable--lots of restaurants and shops albeit with a very high yuppie vibe, with the hotel choices being a decent Holiday Inn Express and the quite upscale Townsend.

        If you have a car, it's a straight shot from B'ham down Woodward to the city (and if you have a chance and like art, the Detroit Institute of Art is well worth a visit)

        1. re: coney with everything


          Birmingham was the first place that came to my mind as well. And if annettesan has a car, Troy is just a few minutes away... great selection of restaurants between the two areas.

          An outlier might be downtown Plymouth, a neat little town. There's a bed and breakfast right downtown:


          1. re: BobRe

            Thanks, everyone! I got a good price (I think) for a night at the Greektown Casino ($97, plus tax, etc.). I looked at the Westin Book Cadillac, but it was a little pricey. I wasn't finding much in Birmingham, though it sounds nice.

            Not a big casino person, but at least there'll be stuff going on. And since it says Greektown, maybe I can find good Greek food.

            Looking forward to the Motown Museum - I like the idea of the place just as it was. Thanks again for all the feedback!

            1. re: annettesan

              Greektown is small but safe. Do you plan on doing big walks during the day or eve (weekend or weekday)?

              1. re: annettesan

                If you're around Friday night, there's a free concert on the river by GM headquarters (the Ren Cen). Even if it's not your musical bag (Ace Frehley from KISS, not my taste!), it's still a hoot to sit by the river and people watch

                1. re: annettesan

                  Mosaic is Mediterranean rather than Greek per se but quite good.

                  1. re: Jim M

                    The Motown Museum is great--visits are guided and mine was a wonderful group experience. The River Walk seems quite popular/safe in the summer evenings: great views of the RenCen, Windsor, etc. Enjoy!

            2. re: Jim M

              My husband & I stayed at the Inn on Ferry St in March. They will drive you anywhere w/in 5 miles!
              We ate at Roast one night (loved it! ). Also went to Eastern Market, Slow's, and Vincentes Cuban. I hope to make it back sometime :-)

              A couple of weeks ago we had lunch at Forest Grill In Birmingham, was very good also! It was just a day trip that time.

              1. re: csb95

                I'll try to check out the River Walk; sounds nice. I'll probably be in the city less than 24 hours, so it sounds like I'll be missing some good stuff. (And I won't be there Friday, so no Ace Frehley...

                I just looked up Roast, and was interested to find it's a Michael Symon restaurant. I live in Pittsburgh, and frequently visit Cleveland, so I'm a bit familiar with Lola and the B Spot. Pretty good burgers at the B Spot, and they have a good beer selection. (I'm an amateur beer snob.) I tend not to trust the whole food celeb thing, but Symon seems to do it OK.

                Thank you all - and if there are any local beers I should try while in town, hey, please let me know!

                1. re: annettesan

                  Local beers eh? Well, off the top of my head there's Motor City Brew Works and Detroit Beer Company. I infinitely prefer Motor City. Their Ghetto Blaster is a crisp quaffable ale and their Nut Brown is very tasty. Their taproom is a short drive from the casino where you'll be staying. It is a very cool and friendly place.

                  For what it's worth, as a nearing middle-age lady, I've never had a problem in Detroit. But, Detroit was designed to be driven around -- they don't call it the Motor City for nothing. It is a HUGE city, square mileage-wise. People think nothing of it to get in the car and drive a couple minutes to get to a destination that is ostensibly walkable. But if you're set on walking, Detroit Beer Co. is a short distance from Greektown. Oh and I've heard it's not a great idea to walk from any casino because nefarious people might assume you have your winnings in your pocket, but I think that's a little paranoid.

                  1. re: annettesan

                    As far as local beers, I'd say anything except Badass (the Kid Rock product). I haven't found anyone who likes it

                    I'm fond of a cold Bell's Oberon with an orange wedge.

                    1. re: coney with everything

                      Luckily Badass was made by Michigan Brewing Company who recently went under.

                      1. re: coney with everything

                        I realize that annettesan has come and gone already, but I'd love to give a shout-out to Atwater Brewery for local beer. Amazing place. Very low-tech bar--essentially it's some tables set up in the brewing room--but it's really, really cool and it has great beer.

                        1. re: IndyGirl

                          Another vote for Atwater. Killer brews.

                      2. re: annettesan

                        Dragonmead is a suburban craft brewer ... that some restaurants are beginning to stock.

                        1. re: rainsux

                          Bell's is one of my favorite breweries - I'd love to get there someday. I'll definitely plan on visiting the Motor City Brew Works. I checked it online and it looked great. Just as happy I'm missing the Kid Rock beer...

                          If anyone in the area ever wants to make the drive east, I'd highly recommend Cleveland's Great Lakes Brewing Company. Their fabulous beers are even better fresh, the food's pretty good, and it's got a nice vibe. (Nothing comparable in Pittsburgh, unfortunately, though we have some good local craft beers.)

                          Thanks again. Looking forward to it!

                          1. re: annettesan

                            Hi Annettesan. How did you enjoy the Motor City?

                            1. re: annettesan

                              Pittsburgh: Troegs HopBack Amber Ale. Delicious. Memorable.

                    2. Hey, well, better late than never. Thank you all for your suggestions about my Detroit visit. The overnight at the Greektown Casino was ok, reasonably priced, but I got there late and all I could find to eat in the casino was shawarma - OK shawarma, but still. I clearly should have left the casino for a late dinner. No local beers at the casino either, from what I could see.

                      That was really only the only eating I did in Detroit, unless you count the free breakfast buffet the next day. Eh... I didn't get to any of the breweries, something I was reminded of when I saw "Searching for Sugar Man," with the Motor City Brewery prominently featured.

                      However....I did get to the Motown Museum, and absolutely loved it. Maybe the highlight of the trip, and I also got to Stratford and Toronto. It did feel, like somebody said, like Berry Gordy, etc., picked up and left the day before. The front reception area, with the steel desk, naugahyde chairs, and dial-up phone, looked just like the offices my dad worked in in the '60s and '70s. And I loved the handsome young tour guides, and how they got everyone to sing along with the hits during the tour. (Those guys could sing, too.) And one tour guide gossiped with me about the day (Sir) Paul McCartney came to visit. Very fun; highly recommended.

                      Thanks again for the ideas. It was good to visit.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: annettesan

                        I've lived here a long time and still have never been to the Motown Museum. Now that you've informed me visitors are pressured to sing while there, I guess it will be even longer before I get motivated enough to get over there! I've always been curious, though. Thanks for your report about the visit to our city.